OUCC Proceedings 2 (1963)

A New Passage in Lancaster Hole

OUCC Home Page

OUCC Proceedings Index

OUCC Proceedings 2 Index

This passage leads from the Main Drain, near the bottom of the Rathole Descent from Fall Pot. The entrance, which was blocked with boulders, was dug out by members of the potholing section of the Fylde Mountaineering Club. It was first explored on July 3rd, 1960, as far as the second portcullis. The next, and complete, exploration was made eighteen months later by S.B. Barnes of Cambridge University Caving Club and myself, both being members of F.M.C., on December 16th, 1961.

The passage is significant in being an inlet on the south side of the Main Drain, whereas other inlets are on the north side, e.g. Wilf Taylor's Passage and Waterfall Passage. The entrance is between boulders, high above the stream in the Main Drain, about 15 feet upstream of the normal exit from the Rathole. A tight squeeze through a slot leads into the wall of a stream passage, above a drop. Downstream is choked; but upstream, near the roof, a traverse among good formations on silt covered ledges leads to where a descent to the stream is possible. Soon a portcullis is reached, being a low crawl in water beneath formations. Next, a very tight, awkward, ascending snake to the left, leads to a continuation. The roof lowers, and the water deepens. Two rather wet portcullises lead to a flowstone choke in a small chamber. Further progress will have to be at the expense of this flowstone.

The volume of water in the passage is not insignificant, and the silt on the ledges suggests flooding, which probably occurs when the Master Cave "backs up", (c.p. flood débris in Rathole itself). The passage contains some very fine formations, but they are often sullied by the silt. There are two roof galleries, one rejoining the stream passage, the other containing gours. The length of the passage is four or five hundred feet, and the general heading is south-east. Standard suggested : V. Difficult.

G. Stevens